Ballooning over Mount Athos
Collage, Painting;  Self-in-Other;  

A hot air balloon floats silently over Mount Athos... Not just any balloon but one carrying an image of Maria’s face. Much to the surprise of the monks living on the peninsula, the face does not belong to the Blessed Virgin Mary but to the artist Maria Papadimitriou. With this visitation from above, Papadimitriou questions the centuries-long ban that bars women from visiting Mount Athos to see its cultural and natural treasures. [...]

Apart from the Virgin, the only other females to grace the peninsula are birds. All women, images of women and female animals still remain absent. [...]

Maria Papadimitriou’s hot air balloon is a light intervention that openly challenges Athonite tradition without breaking Greek laws. The hot air balloon, bearing an iconographic image of the artist’s face, recalls the monks’ veneration of the Virgin Mary’s face on auratic icons. Papadimitriou also takes her cue from the birds, approaching the peninsula by air, albeit without landing.

Jennifer Allen

Excerpts from previously unpublished text, 2002.